Blacks’ Life Expectancy Longer Than Ever

From Times Wire Services

Black men and women have a longer life expectancy than ever before, but on average they still die about six years younger than whites, according to a new government report.

Overall, American life expectancy crept upward in 1990 by two months--to 75 years and 5 months, the Department of Health and Human Services report said. That’s how long Americans born last year could expect to live on average.

The life span for black men lagged nearly seven years behind that of white men. For women, the gap between the races was slightly narrower, nearly five years.


Black men born in 1990 could expect to live 66 years. That’s nearly 10 months longer than in 1989, and a year and a month longer than in 1988. Black women’s life span was 74 years and 6 months in 1990, half a year longer than in 1989 and up 13 months from 1988.

The gap between black and white life spans has fluctuated around six years since the mid-1970s.

Blacks die younger than whites mainly because they are more likely to suffer a heart attack, get cancer or have a stroke, said Harry Rosenberg, chief of the department’s Mortality Statistics Branch. Blacks also have a far greater risk of catching the incurable disease AIDS or of being murdered, he said.

In the latest report, white men could expect to live 72 years and 7 months, unchanged from a year earlier. White women’s life span was 79 years and 4 months, about 2 months longer than in 1989.